Celtic supporters plan Hampden protest

By Sam Hendry

A group of Celtic fans are planning to hold a protest outside Hampden Park over reports of an alleged cover-up by members in the higher echelons of the SFA.

A Facebook group set up to organise the protest, which will take place on Saturday between 12pm and 1pm has already attracted over four and a half thousand members since its creation on Sunday.

This follows the recent match between Dundee United and Celtic at Tannadice where the away side were awarded a penalty, only for referee Dougie McDonald to overturn his decision after apparent consultation with his assistant Steven Craven. Both match officials have since admitted lying about the incident to referee observer Jim McBurney and Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Celtic supporters are unhappy with several high profile decisions made against their team

Craven has now resigned and has controversially accused Scottish Head of Referee’s Hugh Dallas of attempting to cover-up the true version of events and place the blame for the incident on the linesman.

On their Facebook page, the protestors have said, “we believe that, just as Hugh Dallas attempted to make Steven Craven a ‘scapegoat’, so the S.F.A will now attempt to do the same to him and Dougie McDonald, in order to ensure that the whole incident can be ‘swept under the carpet.’ This cannot be allowed to happen.

“The purpose of the planned protest is to highlight this on-going situation. We demand that an independent investigation is carried out into refereeing in Scottish football. We must do everything in our power to ensure that the S.F.A. becomes a more transparent and accountable organisation, responsive to clubs and fans. Decisions like those taking place in the last few weeks should not be allowed to happen or be covered-up in future.

“The thing the SFA hates the most is adverse publicity. They are active in making sure that some damaging articles never see the light of day. If we, the Celtic support, turn up en masse, the media cannot ignore this.”

The SFA were unwilling to comment on the planned protest at this time.

The final whistle on Scottish Football? An insight into the current furore

By Christopher Hall

For years Scottish Football has had it’s issues, everyone knows that.

Sectarianism, racism and debt have all manifested themselves over the last few years within the match day terraces and streets of Scotland. Refereeing enquiries, while omnipresent, are usually taken no farther than the post-match summary from the irate gaffer.

However, the question looms nearer. Are the current refereeing scandals a genuine threat to the game and the final nail in an already watertight coffin?

Only time will tell.

The happenings within the SFA will either be lost within a plethoric archive of footballing news articles or there will be a genuine outcome to this long running saga which poses a real significant threat to our national game.

To simply understand the situation you would personally have to comb through an infinite amount of news articles and reports and still not establish a firm conclusion. On the one hand, you have the letters from Neil Lennon outlining his misgivings with decisions given against his Celtic side at Tannadice and more recently at Parkhead in the Old Firm derby. On the other side, there are officials such as Stephen Craven deciding to quit the game in bizarre circumstances after his involvement in a decision to overturn a penalty for the Glasgow team last week. There appears to be a smoke screen appearing within the game which wont be cleared until the SFA provide their official investigation and a proper conclusion is reached which will allow normal service to resume.

To the fair minded individual, it is obvious that referees are not hired on the basis of their religion, creed or race but by their ability to handle a football match in a manner which is fair and competent. Edinburgh Napier News looks at some major decisions in Scotland in the past five years which have added fuel to the flames within the Scottish football refereeing debate:

* Hearts fans are incensed after Defender Takis Fyssas is given a straight red after an alleged challenge on Celtic midfielder Shaun Maloney (Jan 2006)

* St Mirren are in the news as Gus Macpherson is threatened with a fine for criticising an assistant official in a cup match against Dundee United. (Feb 2007)

* Craig Levein is fined £5000 by the SFA after a post match outburst against former whistler Mike McCurry. Levein was outraged after a string of bizarre decisions which went against his team in a match against Rangers (May 2008)

* Rangers player Kyle Lafferty is fined by his club after deliberately feigning injury which resulted in a straight red card for Aberdeen defender Charlie Mulgrew. (May 2009)

* Stephen Craven and Dougie Macdonald are under fire after awarding Celtic a penalty against Dundee United before quickly overturning the decision to the shock of Celtic Manager Neil Lennon (October 2010)

If you think that you’ve got what it takes to become a referee in Scotland the why not follow this link

Shamed football stars are no role models

by Andrew Moir

A Lack of respect in football

A Lack of respect in football

As Rangers FC stars Barry Ferguson and Allan McGregor are suspended from their clubs and banned by their countriy there are fears that this may influence young players.

The footballers were dropped to the bench for Scotland’s World Cup Qualifier against Iceland after embarking on an all night drinking session following Scotland’s defeat to the Netherlands in Amsterdam. The players did not heed this warning and instead made obscene gestures to the cameras they knew were watching them. This was deemed unacceptable by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and by Rangers FC. Not only will the duo never play for their country again but they are likely to be sold at a much reduced price when the summer transfer window opens. But are do these players have an influence on aspiring youngsters?

Iain Edmonstone has been a coach of school football teams for more than 20 years. He does not think that this behaviour filters down to aspiring players. “I’m sure none of the young players are impressed by these antics. They certainly don’t see these guys at role models. I certainly don’t see the diving and the cheating at that level.”

While he doesn’t see this replicated in his own players he thinks that the unacceptable behaviour is picked up inside the clubs. “It’s an institutional problem. There’s a lack of respect for management and for the SFA. If you want to look at an example from another sport then, what about Lewis Hamilton? He’s probably been with McLaren since he was 13. There’s an arrogance amongst certain individuals who think they can get away with anything.”

Former Celtic, Ross County and Partick Thistle player Henry Creaney thinks this lack of respect occurs because young footballers are isolated from the rest of society. “It all comes down to money. These kids will go into an academy at a young age and have no idea how other people live. Guys between 18 and 20 have crazy money thrown at them. People don’t love the game in the same way any more. They are looking for money and that includes the parents.”

However Creaney believes that that respect works both ways. “When I played the referees would talk to you. They knew your name and they would interpret the rules using common sense. Now they all go by the letter of the law”

These incidents are not isolated. In August 2008 The English Football Association launched the Respect Campaign. This programme is to be in affect across all levels of football from the glamour of the Premier League right down to local leagues. The campaign launched many new ideas including a code of conduct for players and a new etiquette for talking to referees. According to the FA an average of 7,000 referees quit football every year. Respect aims to change this.

As both players and referees look for different kinds of recognition, mutual respect could be a distant prospect.

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